Tuesday, 30 December 2014

New Year's Resolutions

It's almost exactly a year ago that midnight arrived while my sister and I sat in the dog's basket comforting a terrified pup as the fireworks boomed all around bringing in 2014. I'd like to hope that I won't be repeating that this year, but as my current plans for New Year's Eve are simply to stay at home with my family, there's a pretty good chance of me ending the year in the same place I started it!

I've been trying to think about what 2015 will bring for me - sadly the first things that spring to mind are lots of exams! A year from now I'll have taken my written finals for my medical degree, but another year will have passed and I still won't have graduated, even though lots of my school friends will be finishing a second degree and even my younger brother will have finished university. But hopefully there will be plenty of good things about 2015 too. More placements, new people and new places. In order to really make the most of the next twelve months, I've decided to come up with a few resolutions. 

I often change my opinion about making new year's resolutions. Sometimes I think they're not worth making because I'll just break them anyway. Or that I make silly promises to myself simply because everyone else is doing the same. I can't completely change who I am just because the date has rolled forward by another year. But at other times, the first of January seems like the perfect marker of a fresh start, a chance to incorporate something new into my life and to see where it takes me. I try not to be really strict with myself when it comes to resolutions. They're not new rules by which to live my life. Just ideas, things I'd like to try. If they don't work out, I haven't failed. This year I'm doing something new by writing them down and sharing them with you all. 

So here you go, my 2015 New Year's Resolutions:

1. Continue Blogging
I started my blog back in the summer and really didn't think I'd have kept it going for this long. The past couple of months I have lost some of the enthusiasm and found things I enjoyed more than blogging, but having the time over Christmas to read some of my favourite blogs, as well as still receiving lovely comments on the few posts I've put out myself, has inspired me to keep it going. I'm not going to be anymore specific than simply to 'continue blogging'. I just want to carry on writing when I have things to share and to see what comes out of it.

2. Run
This was sort of my 'back to uni resolution' this year. Since stopping horse riding, I hadn't been doing any real sporting activity and was feeling rather unfit. So I splashed out on new running clothes as an incentive to get into it and actually rather enjoyed getting into running. I've been really on and off with it though, so I'd like to be a bit more consistent from now on. I recently read this blog post by The Sunday Blah guest posting for Hazel Jane and because I could relate to so much of it,  it reminded me of why I run. I loved that Lore is completely honest about her running and showed that not every blogger out there just jumps out of bed and runs a half marathon for the fun of it. If people would be interested in reading it, I thought about writing my own 'real-girl running' posts as someone who is a complete running novice- especially if anyone else out there is thinking about running as a new year's resolution!

3. Read More
I used to love reading when I was a lot younger - before I used my free time on Facebook etc. I was wondering how on earth I ever used to find the time to read, but actually it's not hard to swap some of the time I spend mindlessly browsing the internet or watching TV programmes just for the sake of it. I bought a couple of fiction books last term and tried to make an effort to read for a little while before going to bed. Neither of the books I bought turned out to be that good in the end, but it definitely improved my sleep. I have a Kindle that's being rather neglected at the moment, so this year I plan to get more use from it and finish off all the books that I'm about three pages into on each. I also signed up to a local library in Bristol but have yet to actually borrow a single book from them...

4. Stretch
A couple of years ago I made it my new year's resolution to do a bit of yoga every single day. I did manage to keep it up for about three months and I definitely noticed a difference. I'm not sure what stopped me, but I know that as soon as I missed a single day then I pretty much gave up completely. I spend a lot of my day sat down at the moment- working at my desk, sitting in clinics and sitting down at the end of the day using my laptop. This has left me with lots of  tight muscles and embarrassing stiffness for someone who used to be a gymnast! I've made myself a Pinterest board to keep lots of resources for stretching and yoga poses and hopefully I'll be feeling a lot more stretchy by the end of the year!

None of my resolutions are particularly difficult or require anything I don't already have - they simply require me to make a bit of time and work them into my daily routine. In fact, none of them are even new things, so hopefully making them work will be achievable. Let me know what your New Year's Resolutions are, and I hope you enjoy seeing in the new year however you plan to do it! (Hopefully none of us will be sat in a dog's basket...)

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Christmas Catch-Up

After three busy days of festivities, I've finally got the chance to sit down, tuck into the last of the Quality Street (we seem to only have the pink fudge ones left now) and look back at the past few days. I'm also looking forward to getting to bed before 1am tonight- it's a good thing Christmas only comes around once a year because I'm exhausted now!

2014 will be known as the year of the Christmas Tree napkins. Mum spotted these online and so I spent ages on Christmas Day folding them before everyone came round. The napkins were brand new though and didn't really want to hold the folds so we had to press them all with an iron -fortunately the effort was much appreciated! On Boxing Day I taught a few more people how to do them, then a day later I was doing them all over again for another big family dinner at home. I'd like not to have to do any napkin folding again for a very long time!

This book was dug out on Boxing Day - our family get-togethers are a lot more fun than this photo might suggest though! 

One of my favourite activities this Christmas was going to see the Nutcracker ballet at the London Coliseum yesterday. I haven't been to the ballet in years so it was a treat to go again. I've seen a few different versions of the Nutcracker and I was pleased to find that they are back to a more traditional performance than the last time I went to see one. The dancers are incredible, as is the music - I had to keep looking down at the orchestra to remind myself that every singel note of the music is entirely live.

Hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and is getting plenty of time now to relax after the business of it all!


Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Home For Christmas

It really feels like Christmas when I get to come home to a lit up Christmas tree, an endless supply of chocolates and a serious shortage of sellotape...

The other week I was shopping with friends who persuaded me that I simply had to buy Saffy this Christmas jumper from Accessorize. And having seen her running round the house looking all cute and Christmassy, I'm pretty pleased that I did!

Something I love about the holidays is having free time to be creative without feeling like I could be using the time to work. Drawing animal fur is something I find really tricky, but without practising I'll never get any better so I decided to copy a photo of a fox in the snow and I'm pleased with how it turned out. 

Does anyone else ever think about what a strange concept a Christmas tree is?! A tree. Indoors. Covered in decorations. Having said all that though, I love them and seeing how everyone else decorates their's!

My sister and I decided to bake some gingerbread biscuits this afternoon. I had visions of beautiful biscuits with delicate patterns in white icing... of course we actually ended up with brightly coloured icing dripping off them and attempts at creating ourselves in biscuit form.

I hope everyone's having a lovely Christmas so far... and that you've managed to get all your Christmas shopping done!


Thursday, 18 December 2014

End of Term - Let Christmas Begin!

The first term of fourth year has finally come to end and I'm looking forward to getting home tomorrow and having a couple of weeks off. Not that I haven't enjoyed this term- the time I've spent in the hospital doing anaesthetics and paediatric medicine has been good fun and I feel like I've actually learned stuff which is always a bonus! (I've also escaped the children's ward without catching anything it would seem, which is even more of a bonus.)

House Christmas Dinner
Being on a children's ward at Christmas time has also been a great experience. The play specialists and nurses have decorated it beautifully- including some impressive penguins made from balloons. The patients on the ward have also added to the display of elves we had a go at making at the start of the placement. And I got to spend time at a pre-school nursery singing Christmas songs and listening to 'Santa Needs a Wee' at story time- I'm definitely not ready to go back to adult medicine just yet!

Last weekend I came back to Bristol for an especially festive few days. We cooked a house Christmas lunch on the Saturday (the first one I've actually done at university- good job this is a five year course because I don't know how people fit all these extras into the usual three!!), went ice skating at Clifton on Ice (I managed the entire hour session without falling over so I was pretty pleased with myself for that!) and went to a carol service on Sunday evening with mince pies and mulled wine. Sadly, despite being there on placement, I didn't get a chance to visit the Bath Christmas markets this year- next year perhaps...

I can't believe there's only a week left until Christmas- I still haven't quite finished my Christmas shopping so that's my number one priority for when I get home. Hopefully I'll have the right balance of fun goings-on and free time to write a few more posts over the holidays, and to read what everyone else is getting up to!


Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Countdown to Christmas: Merry Christmas in 12 Different Languages

I love languages- in fact if I wasn't studying medicine, I think I'd have gone down the languages route and continued with French and Italian. I might not get to spend every day studying a foreign language (debatable. Medicine is pretty much its own language), but I still like to pick up new words and phrases here and there. So here's a quick list of how to say 'Merry Christmas' in a few different languages:
(If you spot a mistake, do let me know!)

If you've got more, let me know in the comments!


Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Countdown to Christmas: 15 Christmas Memories

Christmas is a pretty memorable time of year and I love looking back on Christmasses past. Today my 'Countdown to Christmas' post is a recollection of some of my favourite memories.

1. Horse riding on Christmas Eve. I used to ride once a week for a number of years and on a few occasions the last lesson before Christmas fell on Christmas Eve. We'd put tinsel on the ponies, play Christmas music and play gymkhana games. It was such a good way to pass the time on Christmas Eve.

2.  Realising we had no crackers about an hour before Christmas dinner a couple of years ago. Christmas dinner just isn't complete without crackers so I had a busy hour quickly improvising with card and wrapping paper, and printing off jokes from the internet. I even made paper hats (although they actually fitted even worse than normal ones!).

3. Christmas curry in second year. It was our first year with our own kitchen (we lived in catered halls in first year) and we'd decided to do a Christmas dinner. Except we kept inviting more and more people and eventually accepted there was no way we could cater for so many. The alternative was to invite everyone round and coordinate a huge takeaway curry order which worked out perfectly.

4. Turning down my one and only offer to be Mary in the nativity when I was about five years old. I can't even remember why I said no and wanted to be a shepherd instead, but I never got another chance at a lead role!

5. The first day each year in primary school that the hall Christmas decorations went up. We'd go in at lunch time and it would be so exciting to see it transformed for the next few weeks.

6. Going to Australia after Christmas when I was 10. I've never spent Christmas away from home, but we did go pretty soon after Christmas and I remember it being really strange to be somewhere so warm and find that our friends had been on the beach on Christmas Day!

7. Christmas Time at the Fun Song Factory on video. A pretty hazy memory seeing as apparently this video is from 1996, but I can just about remember an old lady (who could well have a been a man come to think of it) dressed in a tutu singing about her two front teeth... Pleaseeee someone else have been a Fun Song Factory fan as a child?!

8. Playmobil Advent Calendars. I loved Playmobil, and we got the Advent calendars once or twice. Every day had a small box to open with a piece of Playmobil inside and they all came together to make a Christmas scene.

9. As a young child I didn't really write Christmas lists, but I do remember when I was about four years old I wrote to Father Christmas asking if I could have a photo of him. I was always a bit of a cynical child... p.s. sorry to my little brother for telling you that Father Christmas didn't exist as soon as I figured it out!

10. Trying to make my siblings act out the Nativity when we were really little. I played a shepherd (again) and an innkeeper and managed to convince the other two to play Mary and Joseph. All I really remember is using the stool from a dressing table as a donkey, and finding it absolutely hilarious when the baby doll fell off.

11. Trips to see The Nutcracker ballet. I'm not sure how many times I've been, but even all these years later I know it's my favourite. I also have the CD. And listen to it.

12. Spending whole days at school just making paper chains. And you knew it was serious because the teachers provided us with the pre-cut strips of paper  that all you had to do was lick to make them stick so you could quickly produce miles of paper chains.

13. Dressing as an elf for a very complicated opening to our form's Christmas assembly one year. I can't even really remember what the assembly was about, but I know it involved my friend, dressed as a reindeer, giving me a piggyback across the hall while someone dressed as Father Christmas chased us....

14. Christmas Dinner Selfies. I was going through old photos on my laptop looking for inspiration for this post and found my Christmas 2013 album with some delightful photos of the family pulling ugly faces. Fortunately for them I won't be featuring the evidence in this post!

15. Filming everything last Christmas on the video camera mum got from dad. I still don't think she's ever learned to use it because we were so quick to take it!

What's your favourite memory from Christmas in the past?


Saturday, 6 December 2014

Blogging vs Living in the Moment

If it wasn't for the fact that I scheduled some posts when I had basically a four day weekend last week, you might have thought I'd disappeared. I feel like I've disappeared from blogging! But allow me to fill you in...

When I started this blog back in July, it was the perfect activity for filling in some of my free time- summer holidays, weekends, evenings. It really helped me to have something purposeful to do with all those otherwise empty hours and I felt good for it. 

But this past week or so, I've suddenly had so many other things to do with that time and blogging took a bit of a back seat. From a tapas night, to champagne tasting, to developing an addiction to watching Suits on Netflix, to simply just making time to finally finish my book, life has felt pretty busy lately! Writing here and reading through the growing list of blogs on my Bloglovin feed just hasn't happened.

I love reading blog posts about what other people get up, and I genuinely mean to share some of the things I do too. The trouble is, I also like just enjoying something for what it is right there and then, not trying to capture a pretty picture of it and start trying to work out how to put it in words. And that causes a bit of a conflict when it comes to also writing a blog!

Even without a blog, there's still the temptation to try and record everything. Maybe it's because it's so easy to do these days- most of us have a camera phone, plus a multitude of places to share photos, whether that's Instagram, Facebook or elsewhere. It's part of today's culture to share with our friends and family exactly what we're doing, what we're enjoying. Blogging is an extension of that. 

Sometimes though, it's nice to just enjoy something for yourself, be completely appreciative of it and not distracted thinking of a catchy post title or hashtag to sum it up. 

I think it's particularly relevant at this time of year. I'm sure plenty of you will agree that Christmas has a 'feeling' to it, and for lots of people that's one of the best things about Christmas. That little shiver of excitement when you hear carols, or walk home down a road lit with decorations. But if your instant reaction is to need to share it, don't you just miss out a little bit?

And so that's why, despite what's been a really lovely week (well, apart from full days of lectures on epidemiology), I haven't posted about any of it until now. That's not to say I'm never going to post about the things I get up to, it's just that I intend to enjoy the moments - and it's a bonus if I have a good picture and the time to share my thoughts afterwards!

How do you balance blogging and just enjoying things as they happen?


Sunday, 30 November 2014

Countdown to Christmas: My 25 Favourite Things About Christmas

Tomorrow is the day when we can start saying "Christmas is this month!". For me, this is unofficially the time when it becomes ok to listen to Christmas music, get started on the Christmas shopping, put up the decorations and begin to work your way through all the Christmas films (except Love Actually. Everyone knows you can start that 6 weeks before Christmas...). 

I've bought myself an advent calendar (in addition to the one I have at home. Just one of the perks of living away from home for university) and I'm already feeling pretty festive. And to help you all get into the Christmas mood, I'm listing my twenty-five favourite things (in no particular order) about Christmas right here:

1. The whole cheeriness and general atmosphere at Christmas time. Everyone seems happier and friendlier and excited!

2. Christmas Dinner. Obviously. We have big roast dinners at home pretty often, but at Christmas having all the extra trimmings and triple the number of desserts make it even more special.

3. Christmas street decorations. It just makes everywhere look so pretty! If anyone's in Bristol over the Christmas period, Park Street looks incredible at night.

4. Big tubs of chocolates. Sadly they seem to be getting smaller every year, and I definitely prefer the metal tins to these plastic tubs, but they still symbolise Christmas to me and we get through quite a few over the festive period!

5. The Christmas adverts. I'm not sure when these started becoming a 'thing', but this year I don't feel like the last person to see the Coca-Cola advert- I've seen it twice already!

6. Christmas songs. I have well over one hundred in my iTunes that I love putting on as soon as December starts. Hearing them on the radio, in the shops and being sung all over the place puts me in such a good mood.

7. Christmas specials on TV. Generally watched after Christmas because the actual day is so busy, but I love an extra episode from my favourite series. 

8. Giving a really good present. Christmas shopping can be tricky, but when I'm confident that the person will absolutely love what I've chosen, I get really excited about seeing them open it.

9. Giving the dog a Christmas present. Yep. I'm one of those people and I have no shame about that. Saffy might not really understand Christmas, but she still looks really cute when she gets all excited about getting a new teddy bear. (Poor teddy doesn't usually last much past midday...)

10. Waking up at 4am to check my stocking. I'm still a big kid at Christmas. Even if nowadays I have to pretend I was actually asleep when 'Father Christmas' delivered it at just before midnight... (shh, don't tell anyone!)

11. Driving (being driven) home for Christmas. My university terms are getting longer and longer, so the journey home is getting closer to Christmas and it feels so good when I can finally stop studying and pack up to go home for a couple of weeks. And I sing Driving Home for Christmas in my head the whole way back...

12. Playing games with friends and family. A Christmas get-together usually involves some form of competitiveness- whether its the simple classics like 'Who am I?' or a game of Trivial Pursuit using cards I'm sure are old than me.

13. An excuse for new clothes- I love picking out a new outfit to wear on Christmas day. It's less frilly dresses and sparkly tights these days, but I still like making an effort!

14. Mince pies. I missed out on these for years after making the classic mistake of assuming they contained meat. Oops.

15. Decorating the house. We've never had a proper Christmas tree at uni and we might not be in the house on Christmas Day, but it's still fun to drape tinsel everywhere and hang those foil snowflake things. And then to leave them up as long as possible (i.e. until you move out in the summer).

16. Christmas jumpers. This wasn't something I ever really did until the past couple of years, but I'm slowly accumulating a collection of Christmas-themed knitwear. That I may or may not wear at other times of the year...

17. Catching up with everyone. Christmas events are a great way to see some of the people I don't see at other times of the year and I love that. My old Rangers group put on a Christmas meal every year and invite those of us who've moved on to come back and see old friends which is lovely.

18. The fact that it's completely acceptable to start every day with a piece of chocolate in December. I'd be sad if I didn't have an advent calendar...

19. Comparing Christmasses. I love that everyone does their Christmas slightly differently and I genuinely enjoy chatting about what traditions other people have.

20. Having time off. As I get nearer to finishing university and having to start work, I'm really starting to appreciate the fact that my Christmas Day is completely free. There will come times when I have to work over Christmas, so I'm enjoying the fact that until then it's a day off!

21. Mulled wine. Just the smell of it will do, although it tastes pretty nice too! I've marked a recipe for chocolate mulled wine in one of my cookbooks- perhaps I'll give it a go this Christmas?

22. Christmas films. Nearly always cheesy and predictable, but because I only watch them at this time of year I don't mind at all!

23. Meeting kids who are really excited about Christmas. It always makes me smile- hopefully as I'm on a paediatric placement at the moment there will be plenty of kids who are well enough to be at home for Christmas.

24. Christmas themed outings- ice skating, Christmas markets, Christmas drinks, there are so many fun things to do at this time of year.

25. Christmas cracker jokes. Ok, I'll admit I'm scraping the barrel a bit here (25 is a lot of things to think of!) but I've made my own crackers the past two years so researching the best cracker jokes has been a big part of my Christmas preparation!

So those are some of my favourite things about Christmas, how about you?


November Favourite Posts

This month has provided some excellent reading material in the blog world and so I'm sharing the posts I've especially enjoyed from the blogs I'm following. November was obviously a great month for inspiration with plenty of wintery and festive themed blog posts and I've loved keeping up with what everyone has been up to this month.

Favourite Dessert Post
Starting with dessert is always best in my opinion! Kirsty has shared something that sounds absolutely delicious, and perfect for Christmas dinner party season. Accompanied by wonderful photography, this recipe definitely got my mouth watering and I've saved it in the hope that I'll have a good reason to try it out! It looks stunning and yet seems pretty simple to make with only minimal ingredients which is ideal. 

Favourite Throwback Post
8 Things We All Knew and Loved About MSN Messenger on Lucy Types
Lucy has summed up the shared memories of many people of my generation who used MSN messenger, and reading this post definitely got me reminiscing about those days. Days when it was less about Facebook friends and more about how many MSN contacts you had. When rather than silently seething because you know they've seen your Whatsapp message, you could just press nudge over and over again until they replied on MSN. I'd definitely recommend checking out what Lucy's memories of MSN are and sparking some reminiscing of your own.

Favourite Vegetarian Recipe
Spinach & Quinoa Patties on The Rosedog Blog
I'm not vegetarian but I don't often buy meat, so delicious vegetarian recipes are things I love finding. Recently I've spoken to a few people who have quinoa in their cupboard but haven't really been very inspired as to what to do with it. These patties would make excellent alternatives to burgers and look so fresh and tasty in Rosie's photos.

Favourite Lifestyle Post
I say lifestyle, but this is obviously yet another food themed blog post- although Rosie's stylish outfit does also contribute to why this is in my favourites! Konditor and Cook is a bakery I have very fond memories of so I was delighted to see it featured on Rosie's blog. I spent many years trying to perfect their buttery flapjack recipe - sadly a treat they no longer sell - but Rosie reckons they make a pretty good brownie too, and I'm inclined to believe her.

Favourite Cute Post
Ernest on Gingerly Pale
Now there is no question about me being a dog person, but that didn't stop Jessica's post on her kitten absolutely melting my heart. He's an incredibly cute little thing and if you only visit one of the links I've shared, then it has to be this one because I promise the photos will make your day!

Favourite Video
Boys Do My Makeup on Eltoria's Secrets
To be really honest, I don't usually watch videos and vlogs, I much prefer to read a blog post, but this video caught my eye and I decided to press play. I'll admit I don't actually know who Chip Daddy and Ed Jones are, but their 'talent' for makeup artistry was amusing nonetheless. What made me laugh was watching them switch between trying to show off genuine make up knowledge, and just trying to make poor Simone look as ridiculous as possible.

Other posts I've saved this month:

Hope you've had a lovely month!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

RECIPE: Red Lentil Patties and Herby Tomato Beans

Once again I found myself with nothing in for dinner. I'm currently living in Bath on placement Monday to Friday, so when I get back to my flat in Bristol at the weekend, I don't have any fresh food in. And as it was rather cold and rainy all weekend, I didn't really fancy venturing out to the supermarket. So come Sunday night, it was time to get inventive and make something out the bits and pieces in my cupboard (plus a packet of 'fresh' coriander that was not going to last much longer).

I decided to make lentil patties alongside beans in a tomato and herb sauce- and the result is not bad for something made almost entirely from store cupboard ingredients! The beans were actually a lot better than ordinary baked beans and this made a suprisingly filling meal- plus it's vegetarian, gluten free and feels pretty healthy.

The lentil patties are quite crisp on the outside with a soft, mushy centre and you could definitely adapt the flavours to your own tastes. Next time I'd also consider adding an onion (assuming I had one...) just to give them that little bit more.

To serve two:

For the lentil patties
1 cup of red lentils (of a variety that don't require soaking)
Handful of fresh coriander leaves
1/2tsp black pepper
1/2tsp ground ginger
1/2tsp cumin
1 egg
2tbsp gluten free plain flour
1tbsp olive oil

For the beans
300g pinto beans
400g chopped tomatoes
1tsp mixed herbs

Add the lentils to a saucepan of water and bring to the boil. Boil for 10-15 minutes.

Drain and rinse the lentils, pour into a bowl, then add the spices and chopped coriander. 

Add the egg and flour and then mix together. I mixed by hand to ensure everything was thoroughly combined. If you are making these in advance, you can cover the bowl and place in the fridge until you are ready to cook them.

Drain the pinto beans and pour them into a saucepan, then add the chopped tomatoes and mixed herbs. Stir well and place over a low heat to cook through, but avoid boiling them.

Drizzle some olive oil into a large frying pan and when it is hot, dollop tablespoonfuls of the lentil mixture straight into the pan. Fry for about a minute either side and then take out.

Serve everything together!


Tuesday, 25 November 2014

How to Remove Wax From an Old Candle Jar

Since discovering the benefits of a scented candle, I've accumulated quite a few. Many of them come in pretty glass holders and it seems a shame to throw these away when the candle wick is all used up. So I found an easy way to clean them up, removing any leftover wax, so that you can re-use them for whatever you wish! It's really simple, and means that buying a candle also means you get something useful and long lasting afterwards- perfect excuse for buying them?!

When your candle burns out, let the remaining wax completely solidify again, then fill the candle holder with boiling water. Leave for approximately 30 minutes as the wax rises to the top to form a layer floating on the water. When all the wax has moved to the top, you can lift it all out in one big piece (which is really satisfying!). I guess you could probably keep the wax for something- if anyone has any ideas do let me know- but I just throw it away. Dry off the glass and wipe away and residues and then repurpose it however you wish!

Hope that's a useful tip!


Sunday, 23 November 2014

9 Tips For Making Mornings Easier

How to make it easier to get out of bed

A positive, productive day starts with being able to get out of bed and get going. Which is all well and good, but early starts, dark mornings and chilly temperatures can all make it feel like far too big a challenge to be starting a new day!

I definitely consider myself to be a morning person, finding it much easier to be awake and alert first thing in the morning, and having a hard time staying awake much past 10 pm. Yet even despite this personality advantage, there are still plenty of mornings when the alarm is very unwelcome and I'd much rather stay in bed. For the days when a lie-in is simply not an option, these are my tips for making it easier to get out of bed and get on with the day.

How to make waking up easier

Out of Bed

1. Get a sensible amount of sleep

Sounds obvious right? Well we might as well start simple. Getting plenty of sleep allows us to wake up feeling properly refreshed and rested. How much sleep you require varies from person to person, but try and get what you need by going to sleep at a reasonable hour. A good morning starts the night before!

2. Set one alarm- no snoozing!

Be realistic with your alarm - it can be tempting to set an earlier one with good intentions, but if you know you'll likely ignore it, then just set one for the time you actually need to be up. Setting alarms that you don't wake up to can confuse your brain - whereas a single alarm you respond to is a signal to your body to get up!

Setting an alarm for morning

3. Make your morning productive

I like having some "me-time" in the morning so it's an enjoyable period, rather than a frantic rush, focusing on where I need to be. It's a great way to start the day positively. Some people like to fit in a work out or stretching session, others like to make time to read. I like giving myself an extra twenty or thirty minutes in the morning to catch up on blogs, watch TV or just sit and enjoy a hot drink.

Reading a book in the morning

Morning cup of tea to wake up

 4. Wake up warm

Our body temperatures actually change with our sleep-wake cycle, cooling down as we sleep and warming when we're awake. Setting the heating to come on approximately twenty minutes before you wake up (or longer if your room heats slowly) makes it far easier to transition from under-duvet, to upright.

5. Have an outfit ready

You don't necessarily need to have laid out every item of clothing, but mornings are much easier when you've eliminated any big decision making! Just make sure the outfit you think is clean, ironed and waiting in the wardrobe is actually there...

6. Have a breakfast worth getting up for

Food is great motivation to do just about anything, and an exciting breakfast is a brilliant example of this. It doesn't have to be an Instagram-worthy affair, just something that makes you want to get out of bed and eat it! Whether it's a bowl of lovingly prepared overnight-oats, your favourite chocolatey cereal, a stack of pancakes or the promise of poached eggs, having something to look forward is a great way of starting the day positively. 

Morning porridge with fruit

7. Put the radio on

Breakfast radio is all about getting everyone up and ready for the day ahead! You can use the radio as your alarm, or stick it on first thing as you wake. I really love knowing that I'm not the only person having to drag myself out of bed that morning, and the uplifting music might be all the motivation I need to throw back the covers.

Bedside radio

8. Get things ready the night before

Make life easy. Having your bag packed, lunch prepared and purse/keys/coat somewhere sensible makes for a much smoother morning. Whether that's an extra ten minutes in bed, or time for some stretching or reading is up to you.

9. Have a nice alarm

Nobody likes a rude awakening, and many people hate the sound of their alarm! A harsh alarm doesn't fill me with positivity or make me want to get up, so I use the radio to wake me up. Alternatively rotating between gentle-sounding alarms can make for a much calmer start to the day (you can always set a back-up for a minute or two later if you are worried that you'll sleep through it).

Don't forget to pin and save for later!

Top tips for easier mornings

What are your top tips for being a morning person?
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